With only two films under his belt, writer/director Ari Aster is rapidly becoming one of the most original voices in American cinema. His latest surrealist tragicomedy has horror echoes from his debut feature HEREDITARY and ritualist elements from MIDSOMMER. Now he follows the story of Beau Wassermann (Joaquin Phoenix), a tortured soul struggling to make sense what is happening around him. Is he in a dream or within another dream or an endless nightmare? He is getting ready to leave his apartment and fly to his mother’s house for his father’s memorial but when his front door key and luggage are stolen, he enters a world of paranoia where there is no escape…
This is the world of Charlie Kauffman told with the darkest sense of humour. Beau is a tragic modern-day Candide whose odyssey leads him to the most unexpected places. Phoenix delivers another award worthy performance as the tormented hero who falls into a series of calamities one after another, which force him to confront his inner fears. He is supported by an eclectic cast that includes Nathan Lane and Amy Ryan as the couple who come to Beau’s rescue following a series accident, but soon enough prove that they are as mad as the rest of the world. It is three hour long and needs commitment, but Aster’s distinct vision makes this a worthwhile experience.


As the title suggests, the entire action of this charming film takes place under the fig trees. It is set in Tunisia and upcoming director Erige Sehiri follows the story of a group of workers as they arrive at a remote fig orchard ready for work. Young woman flirt with young men as they pick the fruit while others sneak a couple of delicious figs into their mouths trying to hide away from the foreman’s eagle eyes…
It is a gentle, deliciously sweet film like its title’s fruit. It is elegantly shot by a hand-held camera in perfectly framed compositions which gently caress the photogenic, handpicked non-professional actors, who simply shine under the trees. It is sharply edited and confidently directed by Sehiri – a talent to watch!


A sweet coming of age film based on Judy Blume’s novel which follows the story of Margaret (Abby Ryder Fortson), an 11-year-old, who unwillingly leaves her New York City life and loving grandmother Sylvia (Kathy Bates) behind for a new home in the suburbs of New Jersey. Thankfully she soon makes new friends at school and together they begin to discuss and question everything about puberty, bras and boys…
Kelly Fremon Craig’s beautifully observed film examines the anxieties as well as the joys of being a teenager and elicits a terrific lead performance from Fortson as the eponymous young heroine. She gets solid support from Rachel McAdams as her mother Barbara and Bates as her scene stealing grandmother. A treat, especially to young girls!


A fascinating documentary about a group of men around the globe who share the same name and are all living as James Bond. These poor individuals were christened with the secret agent’s name and had endured living with this legendary name ever since. A Brit changed his name to James Hart, while a Swedish fan relishes his new name and identity. There are some fun stories in America when another James is stopped by a cop and is immediately arrested when the man in question reveals his identity.
In 1952, Ian Fleming wanted a bland name for his hero and chose the name of a birdwatcher writer and whose life changed overnight. There is some fun archive material when James Bond, the birdwatcher, visits Fleming’s Goldeneye in Jamaica. It is an entertaining film even though the reconstruction sequences are not always successful.


An intelligent sci-fi from Chie Hayakawa who sets the action in futuristic Japan, where the government takes drastic measures following a series of killings of the elder population. They set Plan 75 which provides the elderly a painless death in exchange for a small compensation. The action is seen through the eyes of Michi, a single elderly woman who struggles to make ends meet after she is forced to retire from her cleaning job…
It is a sad, sensitive, yet daring study on euthanasia and death in modern society. The performances are universally excellent under Hayakawa’s assured directorial debut. It may not be a jolly night out but a worthy, cinematic experience with a strong message.


This intense political thriller is co-written and directed by The Guard Brothers, who set their action during the seventies. Michael O’Hara wants to leave his past IRA life behind but when his pregnant wife is shot dead by an SAS officer, he has no choice but to leave Ireland and travel to London seeking revenge…
Morgan is terrific as the troubled man and so is Aml Ameen as the guilt-ridden officer responsible for the shooting. They are well supported by Mark Strong and Felicity Jones in key roles. The Guard Brothers create persuasive period details, and they wisely underplay the politics taking no sides. (Sky Cinema)


An excellent biopic on the life and career of great Greek lyricist Eftyhia Papagianopoulou, whose name is associated with the most popular songs of the fifties and sixties. In 1922, during the Asia Minor catastrophe, Eftihia managed to escape a burning Smyrna with her mother and two daughters and headed for a new life in Athens. Her name may not be very familiar, but once you hear her famous lyrics to songs by Manolis Hiotis, Manos Hadjidakis, and Vasilis Tsitsanis, you will instantly recognise them.
The acting is excellent – Katia Goulioni plays the younger incarnation of Eftyhia, a fearless woman who believes she can achieve anything, while Karyofilia Karabeti is the older and wiser matriarch, whose life is often hit by tragedy. It is one of the best Greek films of recent years and is worth discovering on the big screen. (Arthouse Crouch End)

Any feedback is welcome: [email protected]

Leave a Reply